Sunday, 30 August 2015

The Amalgamation of Hawke's Bay Councils

This whole thing is predicated on the fallacious proposition that centralized government is somehow more efficient and a better form of government than de-centralized local government.

It should be self-evident to anyone with a high school education that centralized control of large numbers of people doesn’t work.

Yet here we have another example of the modern trend towards exactly the type of concentrated power structures that 50 years ago were regarded as the greatest evil on the planet.

I know people will say that I am over stretching the analogy but I maintain that the point is still valid.

We are always given the same tired old justifications “more efficient”, “less duplication”, ”stop the nonsense ”. Always the same appeal to common sense. But is it really nonsense to demand autonomy, self-determination and no taxation without representation? What exactly is it that is wrong with being able to pop down to your local council to complain about the broken and uneven footpath outside your house that your kids are constantly tripping over?

With your local council you might expect to see the guys out there (local guys that you probably know) with their picks and shovels and a concrete mixer etc, within a few days. And if not you can go down there and rattle the councils cage yet again! Now imagine how far down the list of priorities old Mrs Nikabaters broken footpath will be if your dealing with a council that has the whole of Hawke’s Bay to contend with.

There will of course be numerous far more complicated  examples of big government inefficiencies, but my point is simple. There is no basis at all for the suggestion that big centralized government is in any way more efficient or less expensive than a local body dealing with local issues.

If I want to be charitable to the special interest groups behind this, I would say that there are unintended consequences to this move towards centralization of power. On the other hand, perhaps this is what they had in mind all along. I am referring to the general leveling effect of socialism.
Bringing everyone down to the same lowest common denominator.  In essence it is theft. 

To arbitrarily steal in the name of the state, from those who have in order to spend on those who do not have. Does that sound OK? After the transaction we now have a whole bunch of people in possession of things that previously belonged to other people.

The other effect of this soft socialism is the steady disenfranchisement of the electorate. In as far as the representatives sent by the people to do battle for them find that they can not, amidst the cumbersome mechanisms of government achieve a positive outcome for the people who sent them there.

The persistence of this state of affairs leaves people feeling not only disenfranchised but disenchanted as well. Even people who were initially beneficiaries of the largess of state theft find that they too have been disconnected from the source of power. As morbid resignation and discontent spreads through society like a virus it seems as if the end result cannot be far away.

At this point state psychology comes into play. The state can either admit the fault and reverse direction, or, employ the ever increasing assets of force and coercion to maintain the illusion of a properly functioning community.

State power being what it is, they always employ the latter, never the former.     

But I digress…I will close by coming back to the specific issues at hand.  I have seen numerous signs around Hastings and Napier advocating a vote in favour of amalgamation (the very word signifies something anathema to liberty!), yet hardly a whisper in favour of the status quo. A few small A4 printouts stapled to fence posts here and there. It’s easy to see the financial backing and organisation is in firmly in the “yes” camp.

How symptomatic of our culture, so complacent  and comfortable, never for a moment considering the possibility that the societal structures and systems we so take for granted could be lost to history simply on the basis of our casual disinterest.   

We need to take a good long look at the councils we have, warts and all. And before consigning them to history make damn sure that the value and representation they provide will not also be lost down the memory hole. 

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